WELCOME TO MONSTER HIGH by Ives Hovanessian

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Once upon a time, in a land not so far away from a hotel room Lindsay Lohan was likely trashing, a mother wondered if she was scarring her 4-year-old daughter with too much talk of horror. (I would be the mother in this equation. Stay with me here) She wondered how to explain to a little girl why Mommy and Daddy often spoke of a malevolent entity hibernating within an underwater city  (NOT Lindsay Lohan, although I can understand the confusion) who had an octopus-like head, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on its hands and feet, and long, narrow wings on its back. She further wondered how she would break the news that, one day, this colossal being would rise from the South Pacific and destroy all of humanity, all the while not giving a single fuck about our feelings. She then had to figure out how to explain to this little girl that Mommy and Daddy would continue to speak freely of this horrifying entity around the house in casual conversation, despite the fact that it might give her nightmares and traumatize her for life because… well, Mommy and Daddy are assholes, that’s why. They might even hang a picture or two in the living room, and read her stories from Mother Hydra’s Mythos Rhymes before bed, because nothing says ‘sweet dreams’ like  “There was a cult that had a god and Dagon was his name-o” seeping into your subconscious as you doze off into dreamland.

And so the mother set about creating something that would indoctrinate the little girl into a world of horror that wouldn’t be so, you know, horrifying, and Angelina The Little Monster was born. The young daughter of Cthulhu and a mere mortal who obviously had some disconcerting dreams of being a fisherman’s wife, Angelina The Little Monster was a sweet, gentle little girl who went to school with regular kids, wondered if she’d ever get to meet her mottled father and tried to hide the tentacles on her head under hats and scarves. It was tough being different, but it was also sort of cool. Angelina was nothing like her mean old dad, which meant that her mean old dad might not be so mean after all. And just like that, the real Angelina got to know – and like – the fictitious Angelina and suddenly wasn’t so frightened anymore. She even drew pictures of Cthulhu and made birthday cards for H.P. Lovecraft, asking Mommy and Daddy to mail them to “Prov-n’-Dance’ on her behalf.

The mother was pleased and got back to plotting evil and applying lipstick, but then another thought popped into her head. That was one monster down, but what about Frankenstein? And what about werewolves and what about vampires? Mummies were scary, too, and so were ghosts. Would she have to come up with child-friendly versions of all those things as well? And then she thought that that wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. In fact, that might be a great idea. A million dollar idea, even. It was just too bad for Mommy that someone else had thought of it first.

Enter Garrett Sander, the creative genius behind Mattel’s wildly popular MONSTER HIGH franchise, a fashion doll line featuring the teenage offspring of some of the most famous (and feared) monsters the world has ever known. Together they shop at the maul, shake their pompoms for the casketball players on the Fearleading squad and try to not kill each other while studying for driver’s tests and planning sweet sixteen parties. So basically, Monster High isn’t much different from actual high school, which I remember being far more cutthroat.

The Student Body consists of…

Frankie Stein

Frankie Stein, daughter of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and his bride. At 15 days old, Frankie is the youngest of the group and the newest ghoul in school. Frankie has mint green skin, a shock of black and white striped hair, bolts on her neck (which allow her to absorb electricity to use as energy to stay alive) and stitches all over her face and body. She also suffers from a condition known as heterochromia (I can relate) which gives her two different colored eyes – one green, one blue – although it’s more likely not a genetic disorder, but a symptom of being assembled from multiple bodies.

Because she’s new to the school, and to the world, really, Frankie doesn’t know much about anything and depends on her new friends to fill her in on clothes, boys and dealing with the parentals. She is a shy but friendly monster who is also a bit of a klutz, as her body parts tend to fly off easily. She sleeps in a bed that charges her overnight and avoids pool parties if she can help it because she short circuits when wet. She has a dog made from so many different breeds his pet license is several pages long. His name is Watzit and he sports stitches as well.

draculaura

Draculaura is the 1,600-year-old daughter of Count Dracula. She is a vegan vampire and therefore doesn’t drink blood or eat meat. She also appears to be hemophobic, going so far as to avoid even the word ‘blood’ as it makes her faint. She has pink skin, purple eyes, and dark black hair with pink streaks. Many of her physical features nod to her vampire heritage, such as pointed ears, fangs, and pale skin that’s especially sensitive to the sun. She also has a small pink heart-shaped birthmark under her left eye. Draculaura sleeps in a coffin, has a pet bat named Count Fabulous and speaks in a Transylvanian accent. She is a hopeless romantic who falls in love easily, but is currently devoted to her casketball-playing boyfriend Clawd Wolf. She also answers to the nicknames LaLa and Ula D.

ClawdeenClawdeen Wolf Wolf, daughter of the Werewolf, comes from a very large family (well, a litter, really) that includes younger sister Howleen and brother Clawd (who is dating her best friend, Draculaura). She has hazel/yellow eyes and brown fur that grows incredibly fast no matter how often she shaves. She shares several physical traits with the Lon Chaney Jr. character she is based on, including fangs, pointy ears and long, sharp claws. She has trouble controlling her inner beast in the presence of a full moon, or a full moon-like object such as a spotlight, which makes performing at the school talent shows somewhat of a challenge. Clawdeen is a fiercely loyal monster who is super protective of her friends and family and tends to lose her cool easily when the pack is threatened. She has a pet kitten named Crescent.

Cleo de Nile

Cleo de Nile, captain of the Fearleading Squad at Monster High, is the 5,842-year-old daughter of The Mummy, Ramses, and younger sister of Monster High alum, Nefera. Coming from royalty, Cleo is used to being waited on hand and foot, so she can be a bit arrogant, selfish and vain. She is also very demanding of her best friend, Ghoulia Yelps, and highly competitive with the other girls. Cleo has tan skin, almond-shaped turquoise eyes (which she always frames with her signature thick, winged eyeliner) and long black hair with gold strands throughout. She wears burial wrappings and lots and lots of gold jewelry. Her pet snake, Hissette, is also poisonous.

deuce

Equally popular but no less deadly is Cleo’s boyfriend, Deuce Gorgon, the teenage son of Greek myth beauty, Medusa. Like his mother, he can turn anyone (except Rochelle Goyle – a Parisian gargoyle) into stone with one glance of his dreamy eyes. Also like his mother, he sports a shock of snakes on his head, although his are styled in the shape of a snake-hawk. Handsome, athletic and well-liked, Deuce seems to get along with everyone, including his high maintenance girlfriend and two-tailed pet rat, Perseus.

Ghoulia Yelps, a zombie, is the resident nerd and comic-book enthusiast of the Monster High crew. Naturally, she’s the smartest of her classmates (a steady diet of brains will do that to a ghoul). Dressed in hipster garb and her signature horn-rimmed glasses, Ghoulia is studious, sophisticated and highly intelligent, although she can only speak ‘zombie’, a series of moans and groans which her friends have learned to decipher in order to communicate with her.

Even though the social hierarchy at Monster High doesn’t seem to favor the zombie population (who are sometimes used as servants and treated poorly, made to carry books and run errands for other students), Ghoulia has somehow managed to become best friends with the most popular monster in school, Cleo de Nile. Their relationship is mostly sweet but not without its share of problems. Just as Cleo runs the school with an iron fist, she can be extremely (and sometimes especially) demanding of Ghoulia, copying off her homework and taking advantage of her loyalty. Cleo does, however, have a soft spot for Ghoulia and corrects her selfish behavior when it is called to her attention.

lagoona

Hailing from ‘Down Under’, 15-year-old Lagoona BlGhouliaue is the daughter of The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and the champion swimmer at Monster High. Lagoona has pale blue scales that cover her entire body, as well as webbed hands and fins protruding from her lower arms and legs. She has curly blonde hair that’s streaked blue due to the chlorine in the school’s pool, as well as freckles that dot her face from being in the sun.

Lagoona is an easy-going monster with a chill surfer attitude, but takes swimming very seriously and is especially passionate about environmental issues, namely those pertaining to the sea. Her boyfriend, Gillington “Gil” Webber, is a fresh-water fish whose parents don’t approve of him dating a salt-water girl. While Lagoona can go from water to land without the aid of a breathing apparatus, Gil must constantly wear a tank helmet around his head to keep from drying out, which means they can only kiss underwater but there’s always web-holding in their favorite class, Oceanography (natch).

Other noteworthy students at Monster High include :

Rochelle Goyle, a 415-year-old stone gargoyle from a cathedral in Scaris, France.

Spectra Vondergeist, the school gossip blogger. Being a ghost, Spectra can go through walls and fade to transparency, so she naturally can’t help but pick up the juicy rumors floating around the hallways of Monster High.

Ribbet collage

Venus McFlytrap, daughter of plant monsters, who has multiple teeth protruding from her mouth (and shoes) and vines trailing up her arms and legs.

Robecca Steam, a 116-year-old robot daughter of a mad scientist, has rocket shoes, copper “skin” and gears for eyes. She is perpetually late due to her malfunctioning internal machinery, despite how conscientious she is about setting her watches.

Ribbet collage2

Operetta, daughter of The Phantom of the Opera, is a musical virtuoso who lives in the catacombs underneath Monster High. Operetta has a scar on her face, which she covers with a mask shaped like a musical note, and a penchant for rockabilly (unlike her opera-loving father) as shown through her denim capris, victory rolls, and bright red lipstick.

Jinafire Long, a Chinese dragon, has a hot temper which she tries to keep in check by engaging in the calming art of calligraphy (by dipping her long tail in ink, of course). She loves Chinese inspired couture and Szechuan cuisine.

Abbey Bominable, daughter of the Abominable Snowman, is an exchange student from the Himalayas who towers over her classmates and tends to come off a bit icy because of her pointed speech and unfamiliarity with social norms. Her coldness may be partially due to the fact that English is her second language (she has trouble telling when people are joking and when they are not) and because she has learned to be a monster of few words as talking is considered a waste of oxygen at the altitudes Abbey is from. She wears lots of fur (faux, of course) and has a pet wooly mammoth named Shiver.

Skelita Calaveras, one of the newest students at Monster High, is a calaca from Hexico (Mexico). Her body is made entirely of bones and her skull is decorated in traditional Day of the Dead makeup. She has long black hair with marigold streaks and brown eyes. She is fiercely proud of her heritage and customs.

While some hardcore horror fans may scoff at the idea of glamorous monsters and dismiss it as yet another softening-up of a genre they hold sacred, the truth is, Mattel and the line’s creators have done their homework, striving to keep the characters true to their origins while giving them modern-day makeovers (how apropos for teenagers, right?)  In fact, Monster High seems to be a gateway to the far more frightening monsters they’re based on. I can’t speak for every parent, but at age 8 Angelina the Little Monster sat through an hour-long documentary about Mary Shelley, then demanded we DVR the James Whale classics Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein so she could see how Frankie’s parents met. Uncle Boris and Aunt Elsa would be proud.

True, these monsters are nowhere near as terrifying as their bloodthirsty parents, but in a world of carbon-copy beauty, the Monster High aesthetic is quite revolutionary. For decades, fashion dolls have had a very distinct look that oftentimes portrayed, and even promoted, an unattainable standard. That little girls have not only taken to, but are crazy about these flawed monsters is promising, to say the least. Blonde hair and blue eyes are no longer the holy grail. In the Monster High world, you could have two different colored eyes, a large scar covering your face, and webbed toes and still be fabulous. Little girls are taught that it’s their differences that make them special, not what alienate them from the hive. If a werewolf and a vampire can be best friends, salt-water monsters can date fresh-water ones, surely we can all see the beauty in one another.